INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Gov. Eric Holcomb said Thursday he stands behind his handling of hot-button issues emerging from the Legislature this year.
The governor’s comments came during a year-end personal interview with News 8 in his office at the statehouse. He said 2022 is a good year for Indiana, citing the many job postings the state has seen.
State lawmakers have dealt with a variety of social issues throughout the year, issuing Holcomb bans on abortion and transgender girls playing on K-12 girls’ athletic teams and attempting to ban the teaching of critical race theory in classrooms . When asked whether it was right for the state government to meddle in such matters, Holcomb said it was the legislature’s right as elected officials to advocate for the concerns of their constituents. The governor said he stands by his decision to sign legislation to eliminate the need for a permit to carry a firearm, despite vocal opposition from the Indiana State Police Supt. Doug Carter. He said he had to balance the needs of law enforcement with constitutional rights in this case. Holcomb said he and lawmakers would continue to work with law enforcement to deal with the new permitless transportation system.
Holcomb became the first and only governor to sign an abortion ban after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson. The law is currently unenforceable due to two separate court orders. Holcomb said he believed the law was constitutional.
“Just as before the introduction of this law, there were critics and there were those who disagreed with it, and they championed policies closer to their shared view,” he said. “And the same is true after the court rules on those two cases, where we’re going to go from here.”
Democrats have criticized Holcomb’s decision earlier this summer not to suspend or freeze gas taxes amid record gas prices. Holcomb said the state must continue to meet its commitments to improve roads. He said the decision to use an automatic tax refund allows the state to keep its road projects going while providing some relief to taxpayers.
“A 20-year plan, a $60 billion commitment, the last thing we want to do is give up that commitment and say these things can wait because we’ve found it’s a priority, and You can’t have both,” he said.
Looking ahead to the 2023 legislative session, which will be his last budget session as governor, Holcomb said he will prioritize education and health programs in his spending proposal. He said the state cannot afford to overlook any population in terms of geography, demographics or educational level when employers are desperate for good employees. When asked by House Speaker Todd Huston for a major overhaul of the state high school curriculum, Holcomb said any changes must be structural rather than taking a dispersed approach. He said many of the types of programs the state needs are already in place in some schools and just need to be expanded.
All Indiana Politics airs Sunday at 9:30 a.m. on News 8.